SpaceX Dragon Cargo Ship Docks at Space Station

November 26, 2015 – 06:26 pm
This NASA graphic shows the location of SpaceX's Dragon space capsule after its docking with the International Space Station on March 3, 2013. The Dragon capsule is delivering cargo for NASA under the CRS-2 (SpaceX 2) mission.
Credit: NASA

Cargo missions for NASA

NASA has a similar cargo delivery deal with the Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp., which will use its new Cygnus spacecraft and Antares rocket to launch eight cargo missions under a $1.9 billion contract. The first Antares and Cygnus test flights are expected later this year.

With the space shuttle fleet retired, NASA is relying on private spacecraft like SpaceX's Dragon capsules to fly cargo — and ultimately astronauts — to the International Space Station. Currently, NASA is dependent on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft to launch American astronauts into space.

The SpaceX Dragon cargo capsule is seen with Earth in the background during docking at the International Space Station on March 3, 2013.SpaceX is one of four companies developing manned spacecraft under NASA's commercial crew program. Its manned spacecraft is an enhanced version of the Dragon spacecraft designed to fly seven people to the station and return them to Earth at mission's end.

The Dragon space capsule that arrived at the space station Sunday will stay linked to the space station until March 25, when it will be plucked free using the robotic arm and released back into space.

Dragon space capsule at the end of the International Space Station's robotic arm.Quiz: How Well Do You Know SpaceX's Dragon Spaceship?

The spaceflight company SpaceX is one of several firms building private space taxis and cargo ships to launch astronauts and supplies into space. But there's more to SpaceX than meets the eye. Test your SpaceX know-how here.

0 of 10 questions complete

Quiz: How Well Do You Know SpaceX's Dragon Spaceship?

The spaceflight company SpaceX is one of several firms building private space taxis and cargo ships to launch astronauts and supplies into space. But there's more to SpaceX than meets the eye. Test your SpaceX know-how here.

0 of questions complete

Unlike the unmanned Russian, European and Japanese cargo spacecraft that serve the space station, SpaceX's Dragon capsules have a heat shield that allows them to re-enter Earth's atmosphere to return science experiments and other gear. This Dragon is expected to return about 2, 700 pounds (1, 210 kg) of gear to Earth for NASA when it splashes down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California.

"What a fantastic day, " Ford radioed Mission Control of the smooth Dragon rendezvous Sunday. "Obviously the vehicle is beautiful, the station is beautiful...


Source: www.space.com

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